Every year, the same question: what shall we do for New Year’s Eve? To set a definitive seal on all that 2012 was, and to open another year in style. At home, in a restaurant, in a city square? With our partner, our friends, or masses and masses of people? In some places there are culinary traditions; in others, it’s essential to make as much noise as possible, whether through fireworks or by dropping things out of the window. Here is our list of New Year’s Eve celebrations, grouped by themes.
A real New Year’s Eve classic, with many cities vying for top place. Last year, about 250,000 people saw the fireworks staged around the London Eye, following the chimes of Big Ben (the first of the twelve chimes marks midnight). Sydney is the first city to celebrate the New Year and it has become famous for its fireworks display (Observatory Hill offers a raised viewpoint). In Hong Kong, the reflections of Victoria Harbour provide a superb setting for a display that last year cost $1 million. In Dubai, Burj Khalifa represents a gigantic launching site for the fireworks. In Rio de Janeiro, fireworks combine with a gigantic beach party on Copacabana. In Geneva, you can opt for a celebration on a boat, providing the perfect viewpoint for the 15-minute fireworks display while you sip champagne.
2. Theatre and music.
A lot of cities have classical music traditions to mark the New Year, such as Milan with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Orchestra Verdi, Auditorium di Milano). Often these are relatively early in the evening so you have time to head off to celebrations elsewhere. In London, the performance Stomp (Ambassadors Theatre) is suitably noisy. In Vienna, the State Opera stages Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert is on the 1st January. You can see it on a big screen in front of City Hall. In Salzburg, Austria, you can brush up youur waltzing skills from 5.00 p.m. on the 31st December, so that you’re ready for the Midnight Waltz amidst sounds of Mozart and Strauss. On New Year’s Day, you can take part in what the city calls ‘Europe’s biggest Hangover Breakfast’ with yet more concerts by the SalzburgLand Big Band and the New Year’s Concert by the Austrian Festival Symphony Orchestra.
3. Outdoor parties.
Feel part of the great family of mankind and celebrate with your friends and people you’ve just met. Dress up warm, bring the bubbles and glasses, and head for the centre of the party: Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Trafalgar Square in London, Champs-Elysées in Paris, Old Town Square in Prague, and so forth.
4. Trains, trams, transport.
Spending New Year’s Eve on a train has a sort of romantic appeal. The Napa Valley Wine Train (California) provides hors d’oeuvres in the station, an antique train ride, a gourmet meal, drinks, bubbles and entertainment. In Milan, the Atmosfera tram offers a period-style setting for a menu prepared by international chefs. In Istanbul, spend the evening on a cruise boat on the Bosphorus, with fireworks under Bosphorus Bridge, dinner, drinks, belly dancing.
5. Champagne cocktails.
If it’s going to be a get-together at home with friends, you can give the bubbles a bit more colour with some added ingredients. The Sparkler: Tequila, a dash of syrup (one part water, one part sugar), and champagne, garnished with a strawberry slice which adds an attractive pink tinge. The Lanesborough: equal parts of Gran Marnier, passion fruit juice and cranberry juice, topped with champagne, garnished with an orange slice. French Pirate: Orange Curacao, dark rum, champagne. Tomorrow We Sail: port, dark rum, one teaspoon of triple sec, champagne. Bon voyage!
6. High altitude celebrations.
In Austria and Switzerland, celebrate on the snow. In Nendaz, Switzerland, torch-lit skiing by the local instructors, followed by mulled wine and party with DJ. In Chamois, Valle d’Aosta – a village that can be reached only by cable-car – you can watch the torch-lit procession, and enjoy mulled wine and panettone in the village square, warmed by an enormous bonfire. And in whatever ski resort you’re at, there is the added benefit that on 1 January you’ll have the slopes to yourself, while the others sleep off their hangover.
7. Run into the New Year.
Don’t relegate the jogging to your resolutions: get going straight away by running your way into 2013. In Toronto, a 5 km run starts at the stroke of midnight, and ends with party with fireworks and champagne. In Madrid, the San Silvestre Vallecana attracts thousands of runners who set off at 6.00 p.m. on a ten-kilometre course. A professional event over the same course starts at 8.00 p.m., for just 750 athletes. At the Midnight Run in Central Park, New York, runners warm up from 10.00 p.m. by dancing, and the run starts at midnight, accompanied by music and fireworks. In Bolzano, Italy, the BOclassic is an event that lasts all day on 31 December, with various categories from junior to professional.
8. Northern Lights in Iceland.
The country is one of the best places in the world to view the Northern Lights, and Akureyri, the ‘Capital of the North,’ is probably the best place to go. It has great skiing as well, and the Icelanders are enthusiastic about fireworks. To see the Aurora Borealis you have to head out into the country, away from the lights of the city.
9. Dining with style
If you’re thinking of going out for dinner, look for a chef’s table event. This will be, by definition, small and exclusive, a memorable experience, with superb cuisine and perfect wine pairings. If this proves impossible, stick to the stars: for example, La Pergola at the Rome Cavalieri, the only 3-Michelin star restaurant in Rome, and probably the finest hotel restaurant in Italy; Oliver Glowig, 2-Michelin starred restaurant at the Aldrovandi Villa Borghese, Rome; Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence.
10. Snow, trees, monastery, stars.
Get away from it all with an excursion to the woodlands of ‘Parco nazionale delle foreste casentinesi,’ near Arezzo in Tuscany. You’ll be trekking through the forest with snowshoes, visiting the monastery Eremo di Camaldoli, visiting a monumental 500-year old chestnut tree, watching the stars through a telescope with the guidance of an expert, and celebrating the New Year with dinner, bonfire and vin brulé. Click here for more info